Most teachers would probably say they recognize good rapport when they experience it or are, on occasions, painfully aware of its absence. Scrivener (2011: 15) writes, ‘whereas rapport is clearly important, it is also notoriously difficult to define or quantify’. Turning to the field of psychology for insights, rapport is said to consist of both emotions and behaviour, and is made up of mutual attentiveness (intense interest in what each other is doing), positivity (friendliness and caring), and co-ordination (being ‘in sync’) (Tickle-Degnen and Rosenthal 1990). It includes nonverbal behaviour and is an aspect of interaction rather than of personality. When found in the language classroom, this translates into a palpable ‘level of respect, humour and safety’ where students know ‘they will be listened to with interest’ (Harmer 2015: 114).

By Judith Hamilton

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